Shin Splints

by Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, known in the medical world as either Medial or Lateral Tibial Stress Syndrome, are defined by pain running along the length of the inner or outer shin bone (otherwise known as the Tibia, one of the two bones in the leg). Shin Splints are a common injury that occurs in running and jumping sports, caused by repetitive micro-trauma or micro-tears to the tibialis anterior/tibialis posterior muscles, the tibia and connective tissue in the area. Symptoms commonly start to occur because of overuse, or after an individual changes their training habits suddenly, such as through increasing intensity or the frequency of trainings in a week, just like with the beginning of a sporting season.

Shin splints occur through overuse of the muscles and tendons surrounding the Shin bone

How do I know if I have Shin Splints?

The signs & symptoms of Shin Splints include:

  • Generalised pain of the lower leg, especially the lower two thirds of the shin bone
  • Pain increasing with activity/exercise
  • Mild swelling
  • Tight muscles
  • Tenderness (especially at the borders to the shin bone)
  • Overly high or low foot arches
  • History of shin splints
  • History of running on hard surfaces (such as concrete)
  • History of recent training changes


What can I do to help myself if I am suffering from Shin Splints?

If you are experiencing shin splints, it is important to rest and allow time for your tissues to heal. You should reduce your training intensity and frequency as without rest, micro-tears will continue to occur and the area will remain inflamed.

You can also apply ice as soon as possible after activity to help to minimise the swelling and inflammation of the region. We recommend application of ice for 20 minutes of every hour, avoiding direct skin contact with the ice by placing a towel between.

It is important to have your footwear assessed by a health professional. By asking questions such as how old your shoes are and if they are specific for the level of activity you participate in, your health professional will be able to give you advice on how often to rotate footwear and the most appropriate types for you.

Strapping of the region may also be useful, as it can promote correct foot and ankle mechanics, and encourage drainage of local swelling.

Learn more about Shin Splints and how you can help yourself by watching the video below by Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson, or clicking here.

When to see a health professional for Shin Splints?

It is time to see a health professional when you are experiencing the symptoms listed, especially if your symptoms are persisting after you rest and reduce your training load.

* Please note that untreated shin splints can result in stress fractures.


What will your health professional do for Shin Splints?

Sydney CBD Dr Abbey Davidson discusses shin splintsA health professional, such as an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor will take an in-depth history of your pain and assess your hip, knee, ankle and foot to assess the range of motion, restrictions and muscle tension in the region. Your health professional will also complete testing to establish exactly which structures are causing you pain, to determine whether it is in fact shin splints. If there is any further concern, you may be sent for further imaging such as an X-Ray.

Your health professional will use a range of techniques to decrease any muscle spasm and decompress the area, as well as to increase the range of motion in your joints and foot.

At the end of your appointment your health professional will reassess your shin splints for any improvements or changes, and will take time to educate you on how best to manage your pain until your next appointment. This may include giving you personalised exercises to perform and activities to avoid to minimise pain.